Tag Archives: bullying

Of Days Like This

Something that came loose from my diary today..just today.

Have you ever had one of those days where you felt sick and slow?

Have you ever had one of those days where you wanted to fall asleep and wake up to a newer dawn?

Have you ever had one of those days when you had just so many things to say, yet nobody was around?

Have you ever had one of those days when you wanted to be in the middle of a crowd?

Have you ever had one of those days when you wanted to write till the end of the world, yet you couldn’t?

Have you ever had one of those days when you felt like calling someone, yet you wouldn’t?

Have you ever had one of those days when you sat in the dark, no matter how much it scared you?

Have you ever had one of those days when you felt lonely and blue?

Have you ever had one of those days when every breath felt painful?

Have you ever had one of those days when you wanted someone to hold you?

Have you ever had one of those days when you had just so many things to say, yet nobody was around?

Have you ever had one too many days like that?

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Of The Boy In The Corner Of The Class

I’d like to say that it started just like that, but then we’d all know that I’m lying. Nothing ever happens just like that. I believe it began when I was the shy, last bench girl who sat in a corner, hiding away from the rest of the class… and he was anything but a stereotype.

Often, he’d lean back in his chair and throw a glance at my direction while I’d be hiding my face behind the stray strands of my hair, tucking the hem of my skirt under my knees and biting my lips in random intervals. When I’d look up, often, I’d catch him staring at me, a pencil or pen poking out of his mouth and his eyes twinkling. Those would be awkward moments and I would be lying if I tell you that it was okay for me to catch a boy staring at me, especially when the boy was him – an enigma of his own.

With a mop of dark hair, curling against his nape, a few strands plastered to his forehead, and gleaming charcoal eyes, he was the kind of boy you found between the pages of some kindergarten sweetheart novel. His lips would curl into a smile whenever he spoke to anyone and I would find a slight grin force itself on my face as well when I saw him smile. When he would climb up the top of his desk and sit there, talking aloud to his friends and clapping them on their backs, I would find my eyes follow his every move.

Even during the most boring lessons of History, I’d find myself leaning back and forth to catch a glimpse of him four rows to my front. He was the only person in the class of forty who acknowledged my presence. Growing up, I had always been an awkward kid, finding it hard to pick up conversations. I was self-conscious, nervous and a lot more, like people had often pointed out, but he saw through that. He looked at me like he knew me forever. And I looked at him like I could never figure out what went through beneath his smile.

Each day, I would pass by his seat and wish he would say something. Only, he wouldn’t. Instead, his eyes would follow me as I would fumble with the books in my hand, breathing heavily, almost melting under his gaze. But never did we, for the first six months of the semester, pick up the courage to utter a word to each other.

However, one day, he did.

In the lunch break one day, when the class was empty and the corridors were abuzz, I found him walking inside the class. His hair was messed up and his shirt stuck against his lanky frame as he nearly staggered against his desk. Almost immediately, I gasped and his eyes wandered down the rows of benches and landed on me. They held something… not pain, not sorrow, but indescribable confusion, as if something was killing him inside, yet he was helpless. I expected him to turn away; instead, he smiled.

“Hi,” he mumbled.

That was how it began – a friendship. A friendship between two individuals who had so many stories to share.

Each lunch break, I would find him in the cafeteria, sitting in the middle of the room with his friends. When he would see me, he would lift his hand slowly and smile. Amidst the loud howls from the bunch of boys and his deeper voice, I spent the best few months of my school life.

Sometimes, when I’d have forgotten to bring some money in my bag, he’d push his tray towards me. Everything with him was like a script from a slow, black and white movie.

“Hey?” Sometimes, he’d put his hand on my shoulder and stare down into my eyes. Time stopped at that moment, for I found myself lost in the utter sincerity his eyes held. They held so much pain as well, but I was too young to dig deeper.

When I’d frown and grumble at something, he would turn and ask me if I was okay. Nobody did that. He would sit beside me for long, until I would tell him what’s wrong. He was the type of boy everyone wanted as a friend. When happy, he would have instant jokes up his sleeve. When sad, he would never tell anyone. And that was what I forgot. He never told anything, so I never asked. Or perhaps, I had been too occupied basking under the sunshine that I forgot to ask him at times, if he was okay.

With him, I was not the shy, quiet girl at the back of the class and he was not the quiet, serious, popular boy. We were so much more than that, with so many infinite stories to tell.

And one fine winter morning, with one incident, instead of our stories intertwining, we wrote different tales.

“Why wouldn’t you tell me what’s wrong?” I had told him that day. Frustrated with his lack of response and careless behavior, I had stomped out of the class, balling my fists and fighting tears. He had arrived late to the class with a slight sore on his chin and bruises on his face. I had been too angry because he wouldn’t tell me what was wrong.

That day, he didn’t look at me. His eyes didn’t glimmer like they did always. His face was cold. His eyes were dark. Something about him, scared me that day. And it was perhaps why I never walked back.

“Really?” I heard a group of girls talking in high-pitched tones. In fact, the whole cafeteria talked loudly about something… about someone. There were so many people talking at once, that I couldn’t catch the train of words – of where what began and what came to an end.

“He starves himself?”

“Are you kidding me?”

“But he’s a boy… anorexia? I mean I have heard girls do so, but he?”

“That is so awkward! He always seemed so strange to me!”

“Who? He caught him in the washroom, puking?”

“You are kidding me! I don’t believe this!”

“Seriously?”

“And what?”

“He was beaten up?”

“Seniors… I don’t understand.”

I didn’t keep a track of time of how long I sat in the sweaty cafeteria, hearing loud noises all around me. I knew who they were talking about, but a part of me refused to believe. A part of me was adamant and held on to the fact that it was just a rumour, but when things started getting clearer and details appeared, I couldn’t help but storm out of the cafeteria and run to him.

“Why?” I almost cried, but not because I was sad for him, but I wanted to know why he didn’t tell me.

“As if you could make things fine,” he retorted.

“B-But-” I struggled to say something, but words caught up in my throat.

We sat in silence. He played with the edges of his shirt while I sat, motionless and cold. In a mirror world, it was seen as if our roles were reversed. He was no longer that easy-going popular boy who had a solution to everything. And I was no longer the quiet girl. Staying in his company had given me an ounce of confidence. I had made many friends by then, but he remained in my books.

But that one day, I felt confused. I felt like every bit of energy had been soaked out of my body, leaving me with an empty feeling.

“Why do you do this?” I asked.

He shrugged his shoulders before leaning back against the chair and pulling out something from his back pocket.

“This,” he muttered, passing me an old photograph. There stood a little, chubby boy smiling giddily at the camera.

“That was me at some point,” he continued. “I was fat. I was ugly. The kids in the neighbourhood wouldn’t play with me. So, I wanted to become someone who would be loved. Someone people would admire.”

“You are!”

“Because I am this now,” he pointed at himself.

When I looked at him that day, I didn’t fail to notice how his shirt pressed against his flat chest and the way his collar bones stood out against his collar. That day, I didn’t fail to notice the many things that hid beneath his smile. Inside, he was hurting. Yet, he put on his best face, just to impress the world.

“It’s so embarrassing,” he said. “I thought nobody would ever find out.”

All those summers and springs melted in the pain that his eyes held. I felt betrayed. I felt almost useless, because even though I was so close to him, I could do nothing.

My lips quivered when he spoke the next words.

“I’ll leave.”

And just like that, he left.

No one saw him at school after that. But people talked about him. They said rude things. They told how pathetic it was.

And it was too much for me to hear.

So that one art class, when the teacher had not yet arrived, I screamed against the hushed whispers.

“He is not pathetic!” I cried. A string of gasps followed pin-drop silence. “It could happen to anyone! Anyone can feel bad about how they look. It’s only human! But when they feel low, when people around us feel low, isn’t it us who should pick them up and provide them strength? Why do you think it’s embarrassing? When girls starve themselves, we say it’s normal. But heck, boys want to look perfect too. Each one of us wants to lose a few pounds so that we can fit into out favourite dresses. Each one of us wants to be in perfect shape so that others won’t make fun of us. So, it isn’t awkward. It isn’t embarrassing. It is just that when a friend was hurting, we couldn’t help him. And now that he’s gone, instead of feeling guilty or sad, you speak so dirty things about him? It is you who is pathetic! Not he! He was perfect!”

When I sat down with a thud, I was crying. Tears ran down my cheeks and no matter how much I wiped them off, they were not stopping.

My eyes wandered over the desk and I found several drawings on them. He had a strange habit of scratching the tip of his pen against the furnished ply of the desk and make small, little pictures. Every time that I passed by his desk, I had a strong urge to run my hand over them, but the ink seemed so fresh, I was sure that it would only end of messing the pictures and making my hands dirty. But that day, I did.

With wet palms, sticky with the tears, I ran my quivering fingers over the drawings. I wanted them to fade away. I wanted all this to be a bad dream. But they didn’t smear. The ink didn’t smear. It had dried up. And they stared right at me, telling tall tales.

When the class was empty and people had left for their homes, I stayed behind. Pulling open a pen out of my bag, next to the stuff he had drawn,

I wrote:

In a race to fit in someone else’s books,

In a race to look finer,

Did we forget that we looked so much better just the way we are?

Did we forget to love ourselves first?

And when the school year finally came to an end, I prayed that someday, he would see this and smile to himself.

To this day, when I’m feeling low and down, I think of the wonderful memories we had and of the many more stories we could have had.

Of Confession Pages

I remember waking up to Facebook notifications.

It wouldn’t have been a surprising thing if it hadn’t been 20 notifications at once. For a person like me who has always maintained a low profile in the school, I was surprised someone or a few people even took the chance to visit my profile. I presumed the notifications were those of people liking my posts or something, but when the Facebook app finally managed to load completely, what I saw… scared me.

Mornings were supposed to have a schedule. I used to leap out of my bed, faster than a rat in trap and rush into the shower before anyone else occupied it. The usual clanking of metal utensils downstairs confirmed that Mom was busy cooking breakfast for all of us, and at occasional intervals, she’d shout to me and ask me to come to the table. Everything in the morning happened in a rush because no one was willing to wake up ten minutes earlier.

However, something was strange about that morning. Either the house was unusually quiet or I was too lost to keep a track on the drone of noises. The sky wasn’t amber but grey, exactly like how I was feeling when I scrolled through the notifications.

“XYZ Confessions tagged you in a post.”

“R commented : This is precious.”

“T commented : Check this out! That girl deserves this!”

“S commented : Lol.”

“P commented : So fucking true!”

Even before I had opened the entire post, I knew it had to be something bad, because the comments came from people who I really didn’t like a lot.

I remember my lips quivering as I clicked on the post and waited with bated breath for the post to load. A hundred apprehensions clouded my brain and suddenly, the schedule of the morning was forgotten. When Mom called for me to come downstairs, I lied and told her I was dressing up, when in reality, I was still sitting on my bed, chewing on my nails, waiting to read the post.

Every second of wait was killing me.

And when I happened to finally read the post, it killed me. Goosebumps arose on my skin when the slightest wind brushed past me. The comments started blurring and when the pain started settling across my nose, I realized I was on the verge of crying. Questions shot through my mind. Who could have written something like that? Why would anyone hate me? And why have some of my friends liked the post?

Mom called for the umpteenth time and after getting no response, she decided to come upstairs herself.

The moment I heard her footsteps on the wooden staircase, I took a deep breath and slipped under the blanket again, burying my face in the bulges of the pillow.

“What?” she asked, entering my room. “Why are you still in bed?”

“I’m having a headache. I don’t think I can go to school,” I mumbled.

“But you have a practical test today!”

As much as I didn’t want to go to school that day, I knew I had to. I couldn’t miss my practical exams. But a part of me was okay with the prospect, if it meant not having to face the students in the school that day. I was afraid that they’d talk about me in the hallways. I knew my classmates were going to have a questionnaire ready for me. And I knew I couldn’t take all that.

However, after Mom’s constant persuasion, fifteen minutes later, I sat in her car.

“Do you still have a headache?” she asked when we reached the school’s parking lot.

I shook my head and managed to give her a convincing smile. After her car had left the school premises, I walked slowly towards my class.

Yes, they were talking about me. Everywhere. Be it the crowded corridors where group of girls sneered and made dirty comments or bathrooms, where everything was discussed in hushed whispers or my class where the recent post on the confession page was as trending as hash tags on Twitter – they all talked about me. And it was tough to put on a pretence. It was difficult to behave like nothing had happened when everything written in that post, affected me a lot. I acted like it was okay with me, but deep inside, I was breaking.

Over the days, though the discussion died down, I found it hard to face someone or to talk with them, because at the back of my mind, I always had a perennial fear about what he/she might be thinking about me.

All my frustration started to build up. I lived in constant fear and doubt. Each night, before I went to bed, I thought about the people who hated me and could have posted that. Too many names came to my mind. Every minute that I was free, I whiled away my time on the Confession page, stalking every post, refreshing the page every five seconds to check if there was another confession about me.

Then one day, I decided that it was enough. I couldn’t live my entire life with my face glued to some stupid Facebook page. Once or twice, I took out my frustration on posts, commenting on how derogatory certain things on the page were and that they must be stopped, but I was faced with even more criticism. Some told me that I was plain jealous because there were no good confessions about me. Others retorted that it was none of my business.

I deleted my Facebook account. I knew it was no use talking to deaf ears. And I never visited confession pages anymore.

Until last night.

One of my friends happened to forward me a link to a post on the same confession page. The post called a girl too fat and that she must get a life. Below were several comments, criticizing the girl on her weight and making cheap remarks on her clothes.

It made me sad. Depressed. To think about what the girl might be going through.

We all have flaws. Perfection is something that can’t be achieved. So what if someone is someone, they could never be? Does it give them the right to tell her whatever they wish? Does it give them the right to bully her to a point where she starves herself to fit in someone’s books?

As I happened to scroll through the various posts, I wanted to know WHY? HOW? How could people be so rude? How could they be so insensitive to post things like this about another person?

Confession pages were supposed to be fun. But halfway through, they presented a darker picture to all of us. People started using it as a platform to post rude and derogatory comments about someone and to spread rumours. Seventh grade girls were called “sluts” and senior girls were the so-called “bitches”. Are these called confessions?

I was frustrated.

Just because confession pages allowed the confessor to be anonymous, didn’t mean one could bully someone to no extent?

And what about the people who actually run these confession pages?

The few posts I saw were pretty rude and the admins of the page were quite okay with it, even joining the line and adding a few more shameful remarks!

Amidst a hundred positive things, a person will only remember the one negative comment told about him/her. That one negative comment, destroys a life. People drown into fits of depression. There have been cases of suicide due to instances of cyber bullying. After how many such incidents, are people going to learn something?

What have we done to the social networking portals?

Is it always going to remain such a scary place?

Of Growing Up

When we were kids, things were simpler.

Be it our first steps or our first strokes on a paper or our first ride on a bicycle, there was always someone who had our back. If we happened to stumble, someone lent a hand. If our strokes were bent, someone taught us how to do it right. If we fell off the bike, someone picked us up and wiped our tears.

So we were not afraid to fall. We were not afraid to fail.

Our smiles were simpler.

Our words were easy.

Our eyes glimmered with hope.

If, back then, someone had told us we’d fly if we jump down the terrace, we’d have gladly done that, for we knew no fear.

When we were tucked into our blankets and whispered fairy tales, we believed they were true.

And then…

We grew up.

Smiles were no longer simple. They hid a plethora of emotions.

Each word was carefully uttered, strategically planned in advance.

Our eyes gleamed, not with hope, but with confusion.

Fear resounded in every corner of our minds. The world seemed scary.

We were careful at every step, afraid that we might fall. If our strokes were not perfect, we let them be, for there was no one to teach us. When we fell, no one was around.

And the fairytale we had dreamed of, almost every night, seemed to slip right through our fingers.

What changed in those few years?

Did we?